A. SRIVATHSAN

One of the earliest cities to implement modern town planning ideas, Mysuru has broad avenues, organised markets and landscaped spaces.

Indian sweets are colourful — yellow jilabei, dark brown gulab jamun and green pista, the list is long. But one sweet catches our attention by the complex mix of two colours. It is brown in the centre and slowly diffuses to become golden yellow at the edges. The porous texture adds to its rich looks. Mysore Pak, many would agree, tastes as good as it looks. It is said that Mysore Pak is a shorter version of Mysore Pakka meaning delicacy of Mysore. Legend has it that Kakasura Madappa, the cook at the Mysore palace, in a moment of ingenuity, invented this dish. Mysore or Mysuru as it is now known is as delightful as the sweet that carries its name.

Capital shift

The legends locate the beginnings of Mysuru to the days of the mythical asura Mahishasura and connect it with its earlier name of Mahisuru. The city came into prominence in the 14th century and was part of the Vijayanagara Empire till the 16th century. The Wodeyar kings shifted the capital from Mysuru to Srirangapatana in the 17th century after they defeated the Vijayanagar forces stationed there. For about 75 years the kingdom of Mysuru was under the rule of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan. When Tippu was killed towards the end of the 18th century, the state of Mysuru was annexed by the British and made over to the Wodeyar kings. The capital was subsequently shifted to Mysuru and the kingdom became a subsidiary of the British. Mysuru is one of the earliest cities to implement modern town planning ideas. After the 1899 plague, many measures were adopted including the constitution of city improvement trust in 1905. Broad avenues, organised markets and landscaped places are an outcome of this. The city is known for its palaces and old institutional buildings. Jaganmohan palace, Jayalakshmi vilas, Lalitha Mahal, Vasantha Mahal and Cheluvamba Vilasa are a few of the well-known palaces. The famous Dasara of Mysuru is a continuation of the Vijayanagara legacy. Dasara grew to be a major socio-religious event during the Vijayanagar period. This great celebration spread with the Vijayanagara rulers and continues to be an important event at Mysuru. Apart from Dasara, Mysuru is also known for its silk, sandalwood and ivory carving. Royal residenceMysore Palace is the largest palace in the city. It was built and rebuilt three times before the British architect Henry Irwin designed the present structure in 1912. It is an example of Indo-Saracenic style and built at a cost of about Rupees 41 lakhs. The golden throne used by the kings is still displayed in the Ambavilasa or hall of private audience during Dasara. The kalyana mandapa and public durbar hall are the other grand spaces within the palace.